New faculty member Daniel J. Blair, Ph.D., has been named a 2022 Wunderkind by STAT, the influential health, medicine and life sciences publication. He joined the Chemical Biology & Therapeutics Department faculty at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in August.
Each year, the STAT Wunderkind awards highlight the research of early-career scientists and clinicians making breakthrough discoveries in health, medicine and science. Blair was selected by STAT editors on the strength of his investigation into new methods to break down complex natural products into molecular-scale building blocks, which can then be reassembled through automation to generate therapeutic natural products at higher speed and volume than existing approaches. He pursued this research through a postdoctoral fellowship funded by the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign under Professor Martin Burke, Ph.D., M.D.
"Daniel has unlocked a path to rapidly synthesizing complex molecules using ‘Lego chemistry,’" said Aseem Ansari, Ph.D., chair of Chemical Biology & Therapeutics. “Starting with modular building blocks and leveraging automation to create sophisticated molecules, he has achieved what has been described as the ‘holy grail’ of organic synthesis by the leading scientific journal Science."
At St. Jude, Blair leads laboratory research that designs covalent matter and examines covalent interactions between small molecules and proteins or RNA to better understand potential areas for treatment improvement.
Blair has been first and co-corresponding author of research papers published in Nature, Chemical Science and Angewandte Chemie. He holds a M.Sci. and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Bristol, Bristol, England.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer, sickle cell disease, and other life-threatening disorders. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to 80% since the hospital opened more than 60 years ago. St. Jude shares the breakthroughs it makes to help doctors and researchers at local hospitals and cancer centers around the world improve the quality of treatment and care for even more children. To learn more, visit stjude.org, read St. Jude Progress blog, and follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.